A new library Operations Center!


The library’s new Operations Center is complete! The building is the first of the library’s capitol building projects, funded by the 2020 voter-approved bond, to open on time and within budget.

“This building is just the very first step in what is going to be a profound transformation of Multnomah County Library,” says Director of Libraries, Vailey Oehlke.

New Operations Center

This new Operations Center, located in East Portland, is vital to the library’s work — it’s where new books and materials come into the library system; where items placed on hold are sorted and transferred; and where specialized materials and services for community outreach are held. Additionally, in the parking lot of the Operations Center, is where patrons can visit the MCL Mobile Library

The Operations Center houses the largest shared collection for the library, with over 500,000 library materials, ready to place on hold for speedy delivery to your local library. 

Bookshelves in the operations center

A key feature is new Automated Materials Handling (AMH) technology, which more efficiently sorts library materials— a process that was previously done solely via hand sorting. The library anticipates using the technology across all locations, helping patrons get their items more quickly.

Materials handling system at operations center

The building is 73,000 square feet and the first county facility to meet Multnomah County’s 2021 Fossil Fuel-Free Buildings resolution

Hennebery Eddy Architects led the design, and Fortis Construction was the General Contractor. The Operations Center is on track to be LEED Gold certified. Several building elements contribute to this certification: 

  • It’s built on an existing site (a former grocery store), which means a ~66% reduction in calculated embodied carbon over baseline/new construction. 
  • Over 600 solar panels on the building rooftop convert sunlight to electricity.
  • It is designed to achieve net-zero energy use by generating energy on site using clean, renewable resources.
  • Capacity for up to 40 charging stations for electric cars and library fleet vehicles.

Thanks to the Multnomah County’s Two Percent for Art Program led by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), emerging artist Tenya Rodriguez created a large-scale permanent exterior artwork.

Artwork mural at the new operations center

The artwork is visible to drivers and pedestrians as they enter the new building. Additionally, eight pieces created by artists from the Portland Street Art Alliance (PSAA) center on themes of light, nature and creativity, providing a beautiful artistic landscape for the interior of the building.

While most of the Operations Center is not open to the public, the new Friends of the Library public bookstore, Rose City Reads, is ready for shoppers! This new location carries items previously sold during Friends of the Library spring & fall book sales, along with retired library materials. 

Inside the rose city reads bookstore, a customer is browsing books

“It took a lot of effort and a lot of work by a lot of people to get us to where we are today, opening this building. A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible,” says Director Oehlke. 

Visit the new Rose City Reads bookstore at the Operations Center. Located at 221 NE 122nd Ave. Portland, OR 97230. Open Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am - 5 pm.